Gleditsch, Ellen

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Gleditsch, Ellen

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Ellen Gleditsch was born in Mandal, Norway, in 1879. After her pharmaceutical studies at Tromsø and Oslo, she worked as an assistant at the chemical laboratory at the Royal Frederick University in Oslo. She pursued her studies while working at the same time, and joined Marie Curie’s lab in Paris in 1907. While working with Curie, she also studied at Sorbonne and graduated with a degree in sciences in 1912. Together with Curie she conducted research on radium and uranium as well as their relationships with minerals. Her output earned her an academic reputation and allowed her to travel: for instance, invited by Yale University, she worked on the determining the half-life of radium. She also taught at Strasbourg, France, Budapest, Sophia, Bucharest, Glasgow, and a number of American universities.

In 1916 she received a teaching position in radiochemistry at the University of Oslo. In 1920 she was awarded the Nansen Prize in recognition of her achievements. In 1929 she became the second Norwegian woman to hold a professorship, after Kristine Bonnevie, and she took over the direction of the chair of inorganic chemistry, a post that she held until her retirement in 1946. In 1948 she received an honorary doctorate from Strasbourg, and in 1962 she was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the Sorbonne. Gleditsch died in 1968 in Oslo.

Throughout her career, Gleditsch maintained close contacts to her professional colleagues from abroad. Between 1926 and 1929, she presided over the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). In January 1939, the ICIC appointed her as a member for the period of three years. However, her mandate ended with the termination of the ICIC’s activities at the outbreak of the Second World War.


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International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation

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Ellen Gleditsch was a member of the ICIC.

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International Federation of University Women

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Ellen Gleditsch was President of the IFUW.

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Created by Marie Caillot 29/10/2011. English translation by Jan Stöckmann 11-08-2015.




  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : IICI/01. Bulletin de la Coopération intellectuelle, n°95-96,"La Conférence de Santiago du Chili". Biographie du Professor Dr. Ellen Gleditsch, p. 615.
  • "Ellen Gleditsch". Article Wikipédia. Retrieved from: Accessed 29 October 2011.
  • Lykknes, A. Kragh, H. Kvittingen, L. Ellen Gleditsch: Pioneer Woman in Radiochemistry, in Physics in Perspective, vol. 6, n°2, 126-155. PDF disponible en ligne : Accessed 29 October 2011.
  • Renoliet, J.-J. (1999). L'UNESCO oubliée. La Société des Nations et la coopération intellectuelle (1919-1946). Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne. P. 185.

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